Weight Loss Surgery

Common Misconceptions About Bariatric Surgery I Wish All Patients Knew

Woman going to step on scale with right foot on wood floor

Undergoing bariatric surgery is a highly personal decision that requires a lot of thought and focus. Although the average bariatric patient is very well-versed in their procedure, we see patients daily who still harbor misconceptions that are either entirely untrue or have already been addressed by surgical technique and technology improvements. In this article, we look forward to reframing some of these issues, so you understand the actual value of bariatric surgery and make an informed decision with the appropriate information under your belt.

The Easy Way

It’s the most debunked misconception, but we still hear it constantly. Bariatric surgery is somehow the easy way out (or a cop-out). For people who have struggled with obesity for decades or even their entire lives, it’s evident there’s more to fixing it than simply cutting a piece of the stomach out and seeing the weight melt away. A successful, postoperative bariatric life involves a great deal of dedication and focus on what patients need, how much they exercise, how they think, and much more. It’s also essential for patients to understand that the postoperative process will not be easy. There’s lots of work to be done and sometimes frustration that goes along with it. Understanding this surprises many patients. We set clear expectations right from the start. In fact, the actual operation is usually the “easy” part followed by a difficult transition to a new way of life.

Quoted Weight Loss Numbers

Virtually every patient is concerned about how much weight they can and will lose. When discussing each procedure, they often wonder about the average weight loss numbers we quote. Of course, these averages are derived from thousands of bariatric patients and their specific experiences. Ultimately, however, they are just averages. We have patients who lose hundreds of pounds and become championship-level weightlifters. We’ve also had patients, fortunately, very few, who were not quite ready to have surgery and ultimately did not put the time and effort into making their procedure successful. Remember once you dedicate yourself to the postoperative process, you take control of your destiny.

Probably every other time our patients have tried to lose weight in the past they have had a “goal weight” in mind.  “I need to lose “x” pounds before my class reunion.”  The best goal is to simply be healthier after sugary. If that means you lose more, or less than the average patient, who cares? As long as you are working toward the goal of a healthier life, the numbers on the scale are not important.

The Weight Loss Will Be Linear

Most patients believe they will lose a good amount of weight, week in and week out, but they don’t realize there may be plateaus and associated feelings of failure. It’s just human nature. That said, plateaus are very normal and may happen several times before reaching a goal weight. Fortunately, we know how to address these, and patients should not get frustrated as this is a time when dedication and focus make the biggest difference.

Not Strength Training

Patients go to the gym and usually jump on their cardio machine of preference. While cardio is an excellent workout and great for the heart, it ignores an essential part of long-term sustained weight loss, and that is muscle mass. Muscle mass is critical because as patients lose weight, their bodies often pull protein their muscles for energy and strength. Good protein intake and strength training maintain muscles. Muscle fiber burns calories even at rest, so the more muscle, within reason, the less patients have to worry about every little detail of their diet.

Relationships Won’t Change

Finally, don’t think relationships will remain the same. It’s nice to believe the whole family and circle of friends will be 100% behind this decision, but that may not be true. Most people don’t know much about bariatric surgery and don’t fully understand motivations and emotions. Knowing they may be left behind is also scary. Patients should consider candidly discussing bariatric surgery with a friend or loved one who disagrees with the decision. Most importantly, an open mind toward understanding other points of view is important – the issue may be from a place of fear of the unknown.

One way to explain your decision to pursue bariatric surgery is to make sure friends and family understand obesity is a medical problem in the same way, for example, heart disease is a medical problem. If your doctor said you needed heart bypass surgery, would anyone try to prevent you from having it? Probably not. Bariatric surgery is no different!

Of course, there are many other misconceptions about bariatric surgery—too many to list in one article. However, these are the most common questions we hear from our patients. As with any procedure, surgery does have its risks, but it has never been safer.

We look forward to speaking with you further after you watch our online seminar and schedule a consultation with us.

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3 Mobile Infirmary Cir, Suite #212,
Mobile, AL 36607

Springhill Medical Center

3715 Dauphin St. Building 2 Suite 6D
Mobile, AL 36608